Patricia Nell Warren

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Patricia Nell Warren
Born(1936-06-15)June 15, 1936
DiedFebruary 9, 2019(2019-02-09) (aged 82)
Other namesPatricia Kilina
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma mater
OccupationNovelist, poet, journalist
Years active1954-2019
EmployerReader's Digest
Notable work
The Front Runner
Home townDeer Lodge, Montana

Patricia Nell Warren (June 15, 1936 – February 9, 2019), aka Patricia Kilina, a pen name, was an American novelist, poet, editor and journalist. Her second novel, The Front Runner (1974), was the first work of contemporary gay fiction to make the New York Times Best Seller list. Her third novel, The Fancy Dancer (1976) was the first bestseller to portray a gay priest and to explore gay life in a small town.

Early life and education[edit]

Patricia Nell Warren was born in Helena, Montana on June 15, 1936,[1] and grew up in southwest Montana on the Grant-Kohrs Ranch near Deer Lodge.[1] Her parents, Con and Nell Warren, were cattle ranchers; Warren had one brother, Conrad.[1] She began writing at age ten and got her first literary recognition at eighteen, winning the Atlantic Monthly College Fiction Contest with a short story.[2]

Warren earned an associate of arts degree from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri in 1955, then a bachelor of arts in English in 1957 from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York.[1]


In 1957, she married Ukrainian emigre poet Yuriy Tarnawsky. Through her marriage, she learned the Ukrainian language and became associated with a group of young Ukrainian emigre poets who became internationally known as the New York Group. As a part of their publishing collective, she began writing and publishing poetry in Ukrainian.[3]

In 1959, Warren was employed by Reader's Digest and worked there for 21 years; she became an editor of both the magazine and the Condensed Book Club.[1] Her first novel The Last Centennial was published by Dial Press in 1971,[1] under the pen name Patricia Kilina, which she also used for her Ukrainian-language poetry. The book was described by Library Journal as "an impressive first novel... almost Faulknerian in its depiction of the despoiling inheritors."[4] She divorced Tarnawsky in 1973 and left the New York Group shortly thereafter.[citation needed]


In 1974 Warren published her second novel, The Front Runner.[5] Told from the point of view of a gay track coach, the story chronicled his struggle to get a talented openly gay runner on the U.S. Olympic team, and to quash his own growing love for his protegé.[6] The controversial book[7] was the first contemporary gay fiction to make The New York Times Best Seller list.[6] The book sold ten million copies and was translated in ten languages.[1] Two decades later, Warren added two sequels, Harlan's Race (1994) and Billy's Boy (1996).[1] Warren also came out as lesbian in 1974.[8]

As a runner herself, Warren was in 1968 one of the first women to participate in the Boston Marathon. She was part of a group who achieved wider recognition in the U.S. for female marathon runners. [9]

In 1976, Warren published her third novel, The Fancy Dancer.[1] It is the story of a rookie priest in a dying rural parish who falls in love with a proud, gay half-breed with a criminal record and "unlawful desires." It was the first bestseller to portray a gay priest and to explore gay life in a small town.[10]

In 1978, came Warren's fourth novel, The Beauty Queen.[1] Also published by Morrow, this book was set in the New York City world where she'd spent many years. The story focused on a socially prominent Manhattan businessman, a closeted gay father trying to get up the courage to come out to his daughter, who had become a fiercely anti-gay born-again Christian politician.[citation needed]

Later career[edit]

In 1980, Warren left employment at the Digest to become a full-time writer. She moved back out West to pursue research on her next novel, a Western historical opus. It appeared from Ballantine in 1991 under the title One Is the Sun.[1] Eventually settling in southern California, she made the decision to go independent with book publishing. The result was Wildcat Press, which has published all her books since, including her 2001 novel, The Wild Man, inspired by her years in Spain; she had traveled there regularly during Francisco Franco's regime when she was liaison to the Digest's Spanish edition.[1]

During the 1990s, Warren became more active politically. In 1996-99, as a result of her concerns for LGBT youth, she volunteered as a commissioner of education in the Los Angeles Unified School District, serving on the Gay & Lesbian Education Commission and later the Human Relations Education Commission.[citation needed] In 2006, Warren hired veteran political consultant Neal Zaslavsky and announced her candidacy for City Council in West Hollywood, CA.[11] Warren was unsuccessful in her run.[1]

Warren died on February 9, 2019 at the age of 82.[12]

In June 2019, Warren was one of the inaugural fifty American “pioneers, trailblazers, and heroes” inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument (SNM) in New York City’s Stonewall Inn.[13][14] The SNM is the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights and history,[15] while The Wall’s unveiling was timed to take place during the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.[16]


  • A Tragedy of Bees (1960) — in Ukrainian
  • Legends and Dreams (1964) — in Ukrainian
  • Pink Cities (1969) — in Ukrainian
  • The Last Centennial (1971) LOC#77-163583
  • The Front Runner (1974) ISBN 0-9641099-6-4
  • The Fancy Dancer (1976) ISBN 0-9641099-7-2
  • The Beauty Queen (1978) ISBN 0-9641099-8-0
  • One is the Sun (1991) ISBN 1-889135-02-X
  • Harlan's Race (1994) ISBN 0-9641099-5-6
  • Billy's Boy (1997) ISBN 0-9641099-4-8
  • The Wild Man (2001) ISBN 1-889135-05-4
  • My West: Personal Writings on the American West (2011) ISBN 978-1-889135-08-3


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Nelson, Emmanuel S. (July 14, 2009). Encyclopedia of Contemporary LGBTQ Literature of the United States [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 634–636. ISBN 9780313348600.
  2. ^ Chin, Alan (March 22, 2010). "Interviewing Patricia Nell Warren: The Pioneer". Lambda Literary. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  3. ^ "From Beginning to New Beginning: A Cycle of Poetry". Lodestar Quarterly. Summer 2003. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  4. ^ "Pat Kilina Has First Novel On the Market" (PDF). Svoboda. November 26, 1971. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  5. ^ "Legendary Author Patricia Nell Warren: Ever The Front Runner". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Ziegler, Cyd. "Moment #4: Publication of 'The Front Runner'". Outsports. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  7. ^ "Author Examines Gay Athletes". Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  8. ^ Kergan Edwards-Stout (2013). "Legendary Author Patricia Nell Warren: Ever the Front Runner". Huffington Post.
  9. ^ Zeigler, Cyd Jr. (June 7, 2002). "Still A Front Runner". Outsports. Archived from the original on September 7, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  10. ^ Warren, Patricia Nell (1996). The Fancy Dancer. Wildcat Press. ISBN 9780964109971.
  11. ^ "Notice of Nominees for Public Office". City of West Hollywood. December 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
  12. ^ Browning, Bil (February 10, 2019). "Author & all around wonderful woman Patricia Nell Warren finishes her race". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  13. ^ Glasses-Baker, Becca (June 27, 2019). "National LGBTQ Wall of Honor unveiled at Stonewall Inn". Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  14. ^ SDGLN, Timothy Rawles-Community Editor for (June 19, 2019). "National LGBTQ Wall of Honor to be unveiled at historic Stonewall Inn". San Diego Gay and Lesbian News. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  15. ^ "Groups seek names for Stonewall 50 honor wall". The Bay Area Reporter / B.A.R. Inc. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  16. ^ "Stonewall 50". San Francisco Bay Times. April 3, 2019. Retrieved May 25, 2019.